I was away in the States for over a month and the sad thing was I didn’t even have a chance to write about a thing, though there was plenty to write about, I can assure you. There always is. About everything. Everything about.
What a shame when you don’t even have a chance to sit back and jot down a few words. Forget the photos. Now people just take millions of them and let the retro filters and cropping do the rest. A man once said that if you want to travel, first you must learn to draw, because when you learn to draw, you learn to observe, and when you know how to observe, you are ready for traveling.
Lately, I haven’t feel I was ready for anything but collapse at the end of the day, and that’s not what I call a demanding skill.
Back in Spain, the summer is going through its motions. They tell me it was a pretty good July for the first couple of weeks, then the heat bore down and now it probably won’t let up much for the next six weeks or so. Maybe longer. That’s the way it works here. Though if there is a bright side, it probably has to do with the dry air that reigns in these parts of the country. In New England, the humidity can get so god-awful, even 80º F can feel like you are wearing two sweaters.
Today in Madrid we got a bit of a break. It’s only 87ºF; they call it pleasant with plenty of sun.
It was pleasant until about an hour ago, then I decided to revert to my newest and closest friend at home, my A.C. It’s actually been a fixture in my apartment for over three years. It never worked, and I never bothered to have it fixed, until last summer when I said enough was a enough. The thing was, summer was coming to an end, so I decided to wait until this May.
In America, this appliance, I guess that is what we should call it, has long been commonplace in most homes. And they aren’t used sparingly. In public places like grocery stores, it can get so icy that I need to wear a sweatshirt or else an impending bowel movement will invade me somewhere around the cereal section. I never knew why this was, and to my surprise, nor do many professionals. “Why do I want to defecate in a cold super market?” does not get as many results on the search engine as I had envisioned. I can’t say what number I had in mind, but I’m sure it is more than one. Apparently my colonic muscles are stimulated by the chilly air in an action called peristalsis, when your intestinal muscles relax and contract in a way that says it’s time to make for the bathroom. It’s the cool air that triggers that. I began to feel that this reaction was more a personal thing, but I’m sure that it’s something people are just too embarrassed to mention.
That said, in Spain, air conditioning in a private home was long considered a luxury and eschewed by many who felt it was unhealthy. By many who smoked and drank regularly, and did little or no exercise. By many who popped antibiotics at the sound of the first sneeze and nourished themselves on fatty pork meat.
Now it is more common, but hardly rampant. In 2008, approximately 35% of Spanish homes enjoyed artificial cooling, and though it is surely higher these days, it’s a far cry from what you get on the other side of the Atlantic. In 2011, in the United States, it was estimated that 87% of households have this now basic feature.
So this is actually a fairly recent image of Spain. A Spain of the last ten years, I’d say. It’s not an image of progress, but rather one of acceptance.